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Benjamin M. Huan ’11 lands a kick to the backside of SUNY Albany’s Owen Smith during the A-team (advanced) sparring competition at the MIT Sport Taekwondo Tournament held in the Johnson Athletics Center on Saturday, October 25.
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On Saturday, October 25, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club organized and competed in the first Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League (INCTL) tournament of the season. Hosted on campus at the Johnson Athletics Center, the tournament was one of the biggest in the history of the league, with 343 competitors from 21 schools. 53 of MIT’s own competed in a long day of forms and sparring. In the end, MIT emerged victorious, taking first place overall and showing its depth in many individual divisions.

The day began with forms competition, where choreographed techniques are judged based on grace, power, and precision. Despite new standards in judging, MIT dominated, outscoring any other team by 2 to 1.

Black belt competitors set the stage, capturing three of six possible medals. Newcomer Erika Lee ’12 took silver in women’s black belt division, while sophomores Benjamin M. Huan ’11 and Daniel J. Sauza ’11 took gold and silver respectively in the men’s division.

Double-placing in two divisions, Stephanie E. Nix ’09 and Elisabeth M. Markham ’09 took first and third in the women’s red belt division, while blue belts Shammi S. Quddus ‘10 and ZheChen “Mary” Hong ’10 took first and second in their division. Tylor J. Hess ’10 won third in the men’s blue belt division.

Despite fierce competition in the lower belt groups, Andrew K. Sugaya ’11 won first in the men’s green belt division, and Grace S. Kim ’09 took second in the women’s green belt division.

Sparring competition immediately followed forms, and MIT came through to win several nail-biting matches.

The women’s teams dominated throughout the tournament, beginning with advanced (A-team) sparring. The women’s A2 team (Club President Jaclyn J. Ho ’09, Han Zhu ’09, and Christine Chin ’09) took silver, beating out Cornell University’s top team—long time rivals—in style. Zhu, who was down by three points, made an exciting comeback in the second half of the match to win. Chin, keeping MIT supporters on their toes, pulled through to capture victory with a dramatic win in sudden death overtime.

The women’s A1 team (Ranbel F. Sun ’10, Corinna Hui ’09, Markham, and Hong) took bronze, despite having a tough match-up against Harvard early in the brackets.

Continuing the trend from last season, the women’s teams were unstoppable in the intermediate (B-team) level, completely wiping out the competition. With all three teams going undefeated, women’s B1 (Sun, Hui, and Markham), B2 (Ho, Zhu, and Chin), and B3 (Quddus, Hong, and Nix) swept the medals in a 1-2-3 finish.

In a great show of perseverance and endurance, the Men’s B4 team (Wenxian Hong ’10, Rafael A. “Maverick” Raya ’10, and John S. Pineda ’10) fought through a tough division and came out with the bronze. Raya and Pineda simultaneously sparred in the novice (C-team) division. With barely any time to rest between matches, they ran back and forth between rings, tearing up the competition at both levels. Men’s C1 (Mark J. Yen ’11, Raya, and Pineda) took gold in a huge division.

Another highlight of the tournament was the great representation MIT had from beginners who had just finished the Sport Taekwondo P.E. class, taught by MIT Sport Taekwondo Coach Daniel B. Chuang. These competitors showed their energy in the rings, while trying out what they had learned in the class.

In the D-team (first-time sparring) division, the men’s D1 team (Ryan A. Rosario ’12 and Ijeoma Emeagwali ’12) took gold, prevailing over much larger opponents. Women’s D1 (Heejung Kim ’12) took silver.

After totaling the points in each division, MIT came out on top with 526 points. Rival Cornell took second, with 405 points, and Tufts University followed with 227.

Despite strong showings in all levels of competition and an overall win at the first tournament of the year, the team is already training hard for the next tournament at Cornell this weekend. This will be the last tournament of the fall semester, and MIT hopes to use its momentum to reclaim the league cup.